Quick Round With

By Randall MellJune 25, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bill Paxton has lived charmed lives.
 
Thats right, as an actor, he gets to live more than one life in the roles he plays.
 
Paxton was astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13, and Wyatt Earps brother, Morgan, in Tombstone. He was a futuristic marine in Aliens, a tornado hunter in Twister, and hes even been a vampire in his many parts. Hes in his fourth season playing a polygamist in the HBO series 'Big Love.'
Bill Paxton

 
Away from the cameras, his is still a charmed life.
 
Paxton, 54, jokes that he feels like Forrest Gump in the way fate has steered him in the paths of giants.
 
When he was 8 years old, Paxton accompanied his father to see President John F. Kennedy speak in the parking lot of the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth. It was Nov. 22, 1963. Kennedy was assassinated hours later in Dallas.
 
Growing up in Fort Worth, Paxton came to know golf living near Shady Oaks Country Club, Ben Hogans club. As a boy, Paxton used to hunt for golf balls there and once gave a batch to Ray Bolger, the actor who played the scarecrow in the 'Wizard of Oz.' He met Bing Crosby in a tournament at Shady Oaks. He met Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra there, too. His most memorable brushes with a great athlete, though, came with Hogan.
 
While Paxton doesnt classify himself as a great golfer, he plays the game, and he appreciates the history. He showed his understanding of the games dramatic elements as director of the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played, which was released on Blu-ray during the U.S. Open last week. The movies an adaptation of Mark Frosts book of the same title, the story of Francis Ouimet, the 20-year-old American amateur who upset the great British players Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a U.S. Open playoff in 1913. Paxtons father once met Eddie Lowery, Ouimets caddie.
 
Senior writer Randall Mell caught up with Paxton for a short chat about Ouimet, Hogan and the movies:
 
Didnt you once say hitting a golf ball was like astral projecting?
 
Yes, you can feel like youre taking off with that bad boy, but very rarely have I experienced that. Im not a great practitioner of the sport, but I grew up around it. My dad played every day, and he still does at 88.
 
How did growing up around the game lead you to the directors role for The Greatest Game Ever Played?
 
I grew up next to Shady Oaks in Fort Worth. It was practically my backyard. Id go golf ball hunting on the course with my dog just about every day. As a kid, I was what they called a greenie there. I worked at Hogans private tournament. Id sit on the green, tend the flag and Id have this gimme stick. If the putt was close enough, it was a gimme.
 
So you got to see Ben Hogan play?
 
I shagged for Ben Hogan on a few occasions at Shady Oaks. There was this little nine in the middle of the 18-hole course, where kids and women played, and he would go out there and hit balls. I was very intimidated by him. You didnt hardly say anything to him. My dad was an original member of the club, and when Hogan was done, he would give me a dollar and tell me to say hello to my dad for him. Growing up there, looking up to Hogan, I related to Francis Ouimets story, how as a caddie, he was inspired by Harry Vardon, how he looked up to Vardon.
 
Why did you choose to direct a movie about golf, a sport that doesnt excite a large segment of mainstream sports fans, much less movie goers?
 
I was looking to direct a second film [after 'Frailty'], I knew Mark Frost, I read the script, and I said, `This is it. I knew a lot of film makers wouldnt touch it because it was about golf, but it was a great human interest story that transcended sports. Harry Vardon, I modeled him after Hogan, but I wanted him to be like a gunslinger, going up against a kid who had never been in a gun fight. Thats the way we filmed the story.
 
Gunslingers?
Most guys filming golf, they get sucked into the pastoral nature of the story, and it can be like watching paint dry. Frost, in his book, describes how theres enough pressure in a golfers head to crush a nuclear submarine. I wanted to get at that. Whats fun about the movies is that you can compress time and space any way you want. Youre only limited by your imagination and determination in how you tell a story.
 
Eddie Lowery, Ouimets boy caddie, was a large part of story.
 
It really came down to this cool little thing with Eddie Lowery, how Francis ends up reluctantly taking this 10-year-old to be his caddie. People saw them as this Mutt and Jeff team, and they laughed at them, but Francis, in hindsight, believed Eddies support and reassurance helped him win. Eddies saying `Forget about what everyones saying, and telling him, `Just play your game, kept the wheels from coming off. Its all true, and its the part of the story that can make you well up a little bit.
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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."